We’re More Than Meets the Eye
Every time I lead a session of OnStage Leadership, I’m always astounded by the stories my participants share. Stories of resilience, endurance, courage, tolerance, patience, heartache, loneliness, regret. Of a hunger for learning, of kindnesses received, of self discovery. Stories filled with heroes and villains. Of joy and pain. Of wins and losses.
So many extraordinary stories we all carry with us that make us who we are. And so often, when I hear these stories, I think to myself, “I would have never guessed…”
We meet people. We work with them. We see them every day. We talk to them in meetings and in the hallways. We think we know them. We decide what kind of people we think they are by what we think we know. And yet, what I’ve learned is how little people really reveal about themselves (partly due to how little people really know themselves). Especially at work.
So often, as leaders, we’re paid to be decisive. We’re paid to assess a situation based on a limited amount of data and decide on the best course of action. But if we don’t have enough data, or the data we have is flawed, might our decisions be leading us down the wrong path?
What if we were to challenge ourselves, when it comes to people, not to decide. To instead work with the assumption that with every person we interact , there’s more than meets the eye. Would we find the compassion we need to treat them with more patience? Would we realize that their snarky comments were more about them that then are about us? Would we be able to see the potential buried under the awkwardness and find a way to excavate it? How would that change things?
I’m not suggesting that tough conversations don’t need to be had, or that sometimes someone is not going to be a good fit, but I am suggesting that as leaders, we owe it to our people and our organizations to look deeper. To do everything we can to get to what’s real, underneath all the corporate speak and the masks, and make it safe enough for people to reveal what’s really going on. Knowing your people-analysis is likely missing key information that you need to make a solid decision.
Because I can guarantee you, in most cases, there’s more than meets the eye.
I suspect that’s true for you too.
Don’t you hope that others will look for that in you when you need it most? On those days when you didn’t get enough sleep and you’re totally crabby, with bad-hair, a short-temper and poor-judgement, don’t you hope that others will look for the nicer-saner-more-generous-wise-version-of-you hidden away?
I know I do!
Maybe the truth is, we’re all “more than meets the eye”.
©OnStage Leadership, 2014 (revised from blog originally posted September, 2013)
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Kimberly Davis is the Founder/Director of OnStage Leadership, a full-day experiential leadership workshop. Click here to read what people are saying!
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